“An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people." Thomas Jefferson (1816).
To raise awareness about the critical need to provide every child with a quality public education, the Portage Community School District is again taking part in the National Education Association's 94th annual American Education Week celebration, November 16—20, 2015.
The first observance of American Education Week occurred December 4-10, 1921, with the NEA and American Legion as the cosponsors. A year later, the then U.S. Office of Education joined the effort as a cosponsor, and the PTA followed in 1938. The activities associated with this week will be part of a nationwide effort to draw attention to American Education Week's tagline, "Great Public Schools: A Basic Right and Our Responsibility." The tagline represents a vision of calling upon all Americans to do their part in making public schools great for every child, so that they can grow and achieve in the 21st century.
The state of Wisconsin has always been a leader in providing high quality education for the youth of our state. This start in 1848 with the adoption of Article X in the Wisconsin Constitution that provided for free public district schools for all children between the ages of four and 20 required local taxes for school support, provided for a school fund and distribution of the fund on the basis of school population, and provided for a state superintendent. This was followed by the development of the nation’s first Kindergarten program that started in Watertown, Wisconsin in 1856. Today, Wisconsin students regularly perform at the top of the nation on the college admissions test, the ACT.
“As a school district, we are so fortunate to have unbelievable community support. Through this support and the hard work of our staff we are able to offer students a high quality education that provides them with opportunities to choose their future,” District Administrator Charles Poches said. “Public education is not only an investment in our students but the health and well-being of our society. This week is a great opportunity to celebrate the value of public education and those who work with our future.”
Two of Endeavor Elementary School’s staff members traveled to Washington, D.C. this week to receive national recognition for their efforts to close the achievement gap among students.
Lead Teacher Jody Steinhaus and Interventionist Jolene Routson represented the school at an awards ceremony Tuesday.
State Superintendent Tony Evers nominated Endeavor Elementary School and seven other public schools for the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, which recognizes overall academic excellence or progress in improving student achievement. Endeavor Elementary is being nominated as an “Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing School.”
Endeavor is one of nine schools in Wisconsin to receive the Blue Ribbon designation, and one of only three in the state to receive the Achievement Gap Closing distinction.
Endeavor Elementary School, with 97 students, has 58% identified by the state as economically disadvantaged determined by federal guidelines and 15% of students enrolled are those whose primary language is not English.
Endeavor Principal Salina Thistle said Endeavor’s staff members have worked closely with families to establish high expectations of everyone involved in the students’ education.
“Some people might look at those numbers and see an obstacle, but we see an opportunity to make a difference,” Thistle said. We are fortunate to have such a collaborative learning and teaching environment- the staff want every student to succeed whether they’re in their class or down the hall.”
Thistle said the staff members are grateful for the recognition but they have no plans of being complacent moving forward. Continuous improvement is a goal for everyone.
“The staff are very willing to share what they’ve learned about solid teaching practices with others,” Thistle said. “They believe it is their responsibility to be sure that they can share what they know with other people and continue to close the achievement gap.”
Endeavor Elementary School’s Sharing Supper has received recognition for efforts to bring community members together.
The program’s organizers were on hand Wednesday to receive a 2015 Standing Up for Rural Wisconsin Schools, Libraries, and Communities Award during a program and reception Nov. 11 in Stevens Point.
Presented each year to nominated projects that “demonstrate the great potential and collaborative spirit of rural Wisconsin,” this year’s recipients join 88 exemplary programs recognized since 2005.
“The individuals and organizations that we recognize for Rural Awards are the spirit of rural Wisconsin,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers. He noted that more than 40 percent of Wisconsin’s 870,000 public school students attend school in our small towns and rural communities. “Our Rural Award recipients are what makes our state so special.
”Portage Community Schools District Administrator Charles Poches said the Sharing Supper program is a valuable one to bridge generations and bring the community together.
“In today’s society, by nature of our lifestyles and demands placed upon us, we have become increasingly busy and self-contained,” Poches said. “Fortunately, Sharing Supper events connect individuals and families of all ages and demographics to reestablish that neighborly bond we don’t always get to see now. I’m proud to see the response of local residents and our group partners to support the cause.” As a way to break down social and economic barriers and build community relationships, Endeavor Elementary School hosts a monthly Sharing Supper Feed and Read. The events are planned by a committee of community volunteers and average 150+ people each month. Businesses, organizations, and individuals have the opportunity to share their time, talents, money, and food with the community.
In addition to a healthy meal and conversations, Sharing Suppers provide access to resources and an opportunity to network with individuals, groups, and agencies that those attending might not be aware of. Each Sharing Supper includes a monthly-themed craft activity for children.
Additionally, a recent grant funded the purchase of books for children at each Sharing Supper for the 2015-2016 school year. Children select a new book at both their reading and interest level every time they attend a Sharing Supper, giving them access to their own books which, in turn, will enhance their reading achievement and build connections between the joy of reading and lifelong learning.
Endeavor Elementary School hosts the Sharing Supper on the last Wednesday of the month 5-6:30 p.m. Wayne E. Bartels Middle School hosts the Portage Sharing Supper on the last Monday of the month, also 5-6:30 p.m.